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LUKE X. 25 to 29 v.
25. AND, BEHOLD, A CERTAIN LAWYER STOOD UP,
AND TEMPTED HIM, SAYING, ‘MASTER, WILAT
SHALL I DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL Ljfe?' 26. HE SAID UNTO HIM, WHAT IS WRITTEN IN THE
LAW? HOW READEST THOU ? 27. AND HE ANSWERING, SAID, 'THOU SHALT LOVE
THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART,
THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF.' 28. AND HE SAID UNTO HIM, THOU HAST ANSWERED
RIGHT : THIS DO, AND THOU SHALT Live.'
MONGST the expedients which have been
employed by the enemies of the cross of Christ to weaken the faith of the wavering and unstable in the revelation of the Word, none, perhaps, have been adopted with greater success, than the unfair production of seeming contradictions as arguments of its inconsistency, advancing such apparent differences as so many proofs that sacred Scripture is at variance with itself, and has, at several periods, promulgated doctrines either decisively different, or at least founded upon different principles. They contrast the exterminations * ordained by the God of Israel with the allmerciful precepts of our Saviour; and will not see that the same long-suffering justice, guided, doubtless, by the wisdom and foreknowledge of the Deity, and the same eternal hatred to sin, as destructive of man's every hope of happiness, breathe equally throughout these separate dispensations. Pursuing the same insidious plan, they assert that (although the moral law is to a word the same in both) the sanctions of the law of Moses and those of Christian morality are totally distinct; the one being enforced only by temporal, and the other by the far more awful consequences of eternal rewards and punishments. From this seeming discrepancy they would argue the falsehood of both revelations (for they must stand or fall with each other), that they might free themselves on either hand from the fear of an avenging God, in giving a full loose to the gratifications of their lawless desires, and in committing all iniquity with greediness unchecked and uncontrolled. Hating righteousness and loving iniquity, these are the consequences which those who live in known sin, and whose interest therefore it is to number themselves with the brutes that perish, would willingly deduce. Abhorring the light, because their deeds are evil, and therefore closing their eyes and hearts against its admittance-conscious, moreover, of their evil passions, yet unwilling to be freed from their bondage, they would, in all the meanness and infatuation of their grovelling * See Archdeacon Paley's sermon on this interesting subject.
nature, cast behind them as a worthless thing the glorious hope of immortality. They assert, then, that neither the law, nor indeed the prophets, had revealed the fact of a future state, and consequently that the gospel of Jesus first promulgated this doctrine, thereby clearly insinuating that the sacred Scripture is scarcely worthy of any credit. Let us turn however, from these unhappy and deluded beings to the Word of God. Let us, my brethren, search these holy records in humble confidence, and throughout them, even from the beginning unto the end, shall we find plainly delineated, the revelation, not of a perishing, but of an æternal life. May He, who alone can guide us, grant us understanding to judge aright! May He, make this our humble inquiry a mean of still further strengthening, stablishing, and settling our hearts in the firm faith of this, the very foundation, of all the doctrines of our most holy religion !
From many circumstantial proofs scattered throughout the New Testament, which when collected together form a train of evidence that cannot easily be gainsaid, it appears, that the doctrines of a resurrection, and of a future state, were held nationally by the Jews before our Saviour preached them, and moreover, that they were referred by them, by our Saviour himself, and by his Apostles, to the earlier revelations of the Word of God. To this point my present discourse must be confined, as these proofs are numerous; and I trust that I shall be enabled to make such a selection, that the strongest and most conclusive evidences may be at once submitted to your attention.
Our text first demands our examination. Reverting then to it, we find that a certain lawyer, or person skilled in the exposition of the law of Moses, tempting our Saviour, with the design to entrap him in his words, and thus to betray him to those who lay in wait for his blood, put to him the following question, Master, what shall I do to inherit æternal life? The strength of this question evidently rests upon the words, what shall I do; "what means shall I take to attain the acknowledged end, which we all aim at, even * æternal life; we all confess and teach according
to our law that there is a life beyond the grave; • for although * we are born that we may die, yet ' we die that we may live.' Doubtless he expected that our Saviour would have answered, in asserting the absolute necessity of a belief in himself as the Messiah, that seed of Abraham, through faith in whom alone, life æternal was promised; but penetrating his design, Jesus retorted by the question, what is written in the LAW? how readest thou? Here then is a direct reference to the Mosaic writings, as laying down the means by which the scribe might acquire the great reward therein promised. These means, the lawyer, proudly confiding in his own righteousness, and overlooking the necessity of atonement, but partly understood ; yet we find him giving this ready answer from the law of Moses : Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. To this our Saviour rejoins, thou hast answered right; this do (plainly proving that the question related only to the means) and thou shalt live. Foiled in his traitorous object by the generally acknowledged propriety of this exposition, the scribe attempts to justify himself by a further question, which is answered by the beautiful parable of the good Samaritan, with which our Saviour dismisses his latent enemy, utterly abashed and confounded.
* Aphorism of a Jewish rabbin, quoted by Reland on Josephus, of the Jewish war.
The meaning of this whole narration is too plain to admit of misconstruction; but our attention should be particularly turned to the last words of our Saviour's answer, this do, and thou shalt live. Jesus does not say, live æternally, although the question related exclusively to æternal life. What more conclusive proof can we desire of the exact meaning and weight given in this age, not only by the Son of God, but even by his bitterest enemies, to this, in the Mosaic law, so common expression ? In precisely the same spirit we find, that, almost always, in speaking of a future state, or of æternal life, our Saviour refers his hearers to the law and